Savvy student speaks on lesser-known electives

By Rosalie Zuckermann

There are the classic ways to fulfill Lewis & Clark’s elective and credit requirements: four four-credit classes with the occasional two-parter five credit classes. The odd structuring in many majors can make our course loads a little lopsided between semesters. This leaves us one or two credits short of a language or creative arts requirement, or even of graduation. 

Maybe you just want to enhance your expertise in a specific language, culture or technical skills. Thankfully, LC has many options for students to fulfill those requirements and desires. 

On the LC website, there is a tab on the College Advising Center’s page called “Hidden Gems.” I reference this website every year to add in some sorely needed credits and to fill in my time with some useful or interesting courses. They often have a much smaller class size and require much less homework and studying  than the typical course. 

It was here that I found the course Art of Tea in Japanese Culture (AS-156) that I took last semester with Visiting Instructor of Asian Studies Jan Waldmann. It was a quaint ten-ish person class where we got individualized assistance as we learned the history and the art of making matcha the traditional way. It was a once-per-week class that took place at night (PSA: do not drink the matcha after 7 p.m.) and we learned how to fold our fukusas (traditional Japanese purifying napkins) and prepare our equipment for making tea for ourselves and others. By the end of the semester, we could make tea, which is over 20 steps, from memory.

It was an easy way for me to connect with my culture and snag two extra credits on the side, while also learning something new and having fun with my friends. I brought my fukusa around with me to practice the unique way of folding it in between classes and with my other classmates. It took a while to master, and is not as easy as you might think!

In addition, I have had multiple friends take the Excel Skills Lab (ELI-211) which is held one day a week for only two months of the semester. Their reasoning for taking it was that it was a useful skill to have not only for daily life but for their resumes as well. 

There are one to two credit classes that you can take, updated near the registration period of the semester previous to when the courses are offered. At this time, the page still shows the courses offered for Spring 2024, but will be updated for Fall soon. 

In the course catalog that contains descriptions and requirements for all majors, classes and most extracurriculars, there is an additional section called “Cocurricular Opportunities,” where students can learn about the different extracurricular positions that could potentially earn them credits without having to take a specific class. 

For example, the Theatre department and some student media organizations, according to the course catalog, updated for the 2023-24 school year, are able to grant students who meet the necessary prerequisites with academic credit for working with them on their projects.

Another way you can earn PE credits is to participate in a specific Fall or Spring break trip with College Outdoors. These are multi-day trips with faculty that feature a multitude of different wilderness exploration opportunities. These are on a first-come, first-serve basis and the petition for academic credit is separate from the general sign-up. Keep in mind, however, that only those that go over the Fall and Spring breaks are eligible for academic credit and they cost more than an average trip. 

If you are willing to look for it, there are many ways to get ahead with your studies and learn more about culture and technical skills. These methods are not always well-advertised, which is why it is important to consult your academic advisors if you have any questions regarding your academic career. These are just a few ways that you are able to get the most out of your time at LC and have fun along the way. 

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